Union to ballot teachers on ‘paltry’ new pay offer

Teachers from Christie Park Primary in Alexandria.

By Bill Heaney

The EIS, Scotland’s biggest teaching union, said at the weekend that it would suspend school strikes next week after receiving the improved deal.

But NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said the offer was “paltry” and fell short of what teachers wanted.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP, pictured right, said: “About time. This was no way for the SNP/Green Government to treat the people who are responsible for nurturing the next generation.

“I hope the government learns lessons and now we can get on with closing the poverty-related attainment gap, tackling violence in schools and raising the overall performance of Scottish education.”

The unions will consult their members on the proposal, which would give them a 14.6% pay rise over 28 months.

It involves a 7% rise backdated to last April, a further 5% this April and another 2% in January.

The NASUWT union said its campaign of industrial action, including action short of strikes, would continue.

Dr Patrick Roach said: “No doubt employers, the Scottish Government and others will want to claim that this offer represents a significant improvement for teachers, when in fact that means another pay cut for the profession.

“The manipulation of future pay award dates cannot disguise the fact that this latest offer falls short of what teachers have demanded and it is likely to be viewed as too little, too late.”

Teachers had initially demanded a 10% increase this year, with the dispute seeing almost all schools in Scotland being closed by a series of strikes.

The EIS union members pictured here in Dumbarton have suspended strikes next week.

The new proposal follows talks earlier this week between the EIS, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville and Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

EIS general secretary, Andrea Bradley, said they would recommend that members accept the latest offer.

She told BBC Scotland: “The salaries committee believes that strategically this is the best that can be achieved, without extensive further industrial action over a number of months.

“Teachers being on picket lines rather than classrooms – many of our members cannot afford that. We hope that they will vote to accept the offer.”

Targeted strike action by the EIS in specific Scottish parliament constituencies had been due to take place next week.

The education secretary told BBC Scotland she was “delighted” that the EIS had postponed the strikes.

Ms Somerville said: “I don’t want to see any more disruption for our children and young people, particularly in the run up to exams.

“We’ve clearly tried to compromise as this is the sixth offer on the table.

“I’m delighted that the EIS will recommend this as an acceptance to their members.”

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Analysis box by Jamie McIvor, news correspondent, BBC Scotland

It cannot be taken for granted that teachers will accept the new pay offer. There has been a wide range of reaction from individual teachers on social media.

Some believe the new offer is the best which might realistically be achieved at present while others believe action should continue.

What really matters though will be the outcomes of consultations by the unions with their members.

The EIS is by far the biggest union in Scottish education. The union is recommending that members accept the offer.

Their decision is likely to be known on Friday.

If EIS members accept the offer, it is likely to then be implemented by employers – even if some other unions, or a large chunk of the profession overall, might reject it. This is what happened with NHS pay in Scotland.

If the EIS rejects it, then widespread action will almost certainly continue.

And if a substantial proportion of teachers believe the action should continue the ramifications within education could prove significant.

Top picture: Teachers from Vale of Leven Academy hit the street in pay protest.

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